Dating advice for men
Guys, guys: let’s get one thing out of the way. I know dating can be difficult — but as hard as it is, dating advice for men is often even worse. If you’ve found your way here, you’re probably a single guy who’s been promised a thousand times that the blog you just read called “top 10 dating tips for men” or “what to say on a first date” is your ticket to an everlasting relationship.
Clearly, someone lied. But that doesn’t mean you’re stuck in love, or that you’re destined to be #foreveralone. In fact, the truth is that you’ve probably just been given some bad advice from people who don’t actually know you, your life, your romantic preferences or your relationship ideals. The truth is, relationship advice columnists aren’t bad people, but they’re certainly no more qualified than anyone else to talk about how to find a partner.
And neither am I. Now, I know what you’re thinking: why the hell would a blogger admit to knowing nothing about love right before telling me how to fall in love? Kind of stupid, right?
Under normal circumstances, I’d agree with you. But here’s the thing: the reason I say that is because I only know how love works for me. I don’t — and won’t pretend to — know how love works for YOU. The kind of relationship you want and need probably looks very different from the kind of relationship I want and need. And that’s perfectly fine.
But that means you need a different toolset than me. One that’s equal parts universal enough to apply to anyone, but also customizable enough to make sense to just you.
And that’s why this blog is going to be far more useful to you than any of the other articles you’ve read on relationships so far — rather than extoll the virtues of “putting yourself out there” or “getting on dating apps,” I’m just going to share a few, simple tips that’ll make your dating life make sense.
Lastly: these aren’t hacks for “getting laid” or “getting matches”… if you’re looking for those, look somewhere else (preferably far away from me). Instead, they’re designed to help you determine what you want in a partner… and then find it.
Before anything else, start by envisioning what you WANT
Do you have a journal? You’d better. In fact, if you don’t, it’s time to get one — like, right now. The benefits of journaling are so wide and well-studied that not picking one up and using it is like living your life on hard mode.
The reason I bring journaling up is because it’s a powerful dating tool. A journal is an amazing place to figure out what you want in a partner. And that’s my first dating tip for you: before you even THINK about going on a date, instead, think about what you WANT from a dating partner.
You might say, “I’ve already done that!” And maybe it’s true. The fact is that a lot of people have already come up with mild, milquetoast descriptions of who they want to be with in their minds. “Oh, they love dogs…”, or “They’re funny…”, or “They get along well with my friends…”
Really? This is the person that you could be spending the rest of your LIFE with… and the best you can do is, “They like sports and Marvel movies”? No. If you’ve had little luck in love so far, it’s probably because you haven’t clearly defined what you want in your mind, and it’s leading you to go on dates with people who probably aren’t the best match for you in the long-term. Maybe the first date goes well, but after the second, third and fourth (if it goes that far), you start to realize there’s no lasting potential in the relationship.
That’s where your journal comes in. Pull it out now and define what you want in a partner. And I don’t want any of this non-specific stuff. I want concrete things. What do they look like? Talk like? Do for a living? Care about? Cry about? What kind of life do they have one, five and ten years from now? Do they want to travel abroad, or are they more of a hometown person? Are they a picky eater or more adventurous? What would you want to talk to them for hours about?
Get as granular as possible with this now, because it’ll help you out later. That way, whenever you’re out looking for a potential match, you’ll have something to compare them back to — and if they don’t measure up, it’s time to move along and look for greener pastures.
End the negative thought cycle and embrace uncertainty
Are you feeling cynical about love right now? If so, you’re probably not in a good headspace to date. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a partner, but if you’re “that” friend who’s going up to all of his buddies and saying “Dating sucks,” or “There’s nobody out there for me,” then you’re probably right.
I know. I’m not supposed to say that. But welcome to the school of hard knocks. And here’s the other half of the lesson: if, instead of those things, you start saying, “Dating can be amazing,” “I’m going to find someone I love someday,” and “I’m excited to meet new people and see what they have to show me,” then, once again, you’re probably right.
That’s because good things often come to us when we’re anticipating good things. It’s not that good stuff is automatically attracted to good thoughts… but rather that hoping for and expecting a good outcome puts you in a better place to make that outcome a reality. If you can manage your thoughts about dating, you’ll have a much better time with dating itself.
So. Dispense with the woe-is-me dating mentality, and absorb dating in for all it is. It’s a wild, exciting ride with highs and lows… and that’s perfectly okay. You have the rest of forever to be with your person if that's what you're looking for… why are you so antsy to be with them right now?
Let go of the ego and have some fun
You’re about to go on a date, and you’re panicking. Why? Because your date — someone who’s cute, interesting, engaging and exciting to you — has just invited you to something you know nothing about. Maybe it’s a dance class. Or a pool night at the local bar. Or an art studio, or a sports game, or a video game convention, or, or, or…
Under normal circumstances, most of us would gripe and say to ourselves, “Why do I have to go and do that? I’m going to look like a complete idiot.”
If that’s how you’re thinking, stop yourself right now and do a quick rewind. That’s because it’s time to do a deep dive on your ego… which acts as a protection mechanism against threats. The role of your ego is to keep you safe and in your comfort zone. Your ego doesn’t like risks. Your ego hates making a fool of itself.
But your ego can also stop you from experiencing all the unique and interesting opportunities life has to offer. It can prevent you from trying new things that may not come naturally to you, and it can stop you from having a good time.
Think about it. Did you give up at all the things you loved as a child because you were bad at them? Hell no! You were terrible at those things, and you still adored them. You adored them so much that you got better. And that’s true of your adult life, too. You’re allowed to be bad at things in front of a date — doing so will show them that you’re willing to be open and vulnerable with them. And if they judge you for it? Then they’re not the right date for you.
So, the next time you’re feeling “out of your element” on a date… smile, relax and let go. New experiences aren’t unsafe! They’re just part of the spice that makes life an interesting dish.
Find the ESSENCE of what you want in a partner
Now it’s time for the hardest lesson of all. You know how I made you make that list of all the things you wanted in a partner?
It’s time to throw it out.
KIDDING. Don’t do that. But there’s something more to that list that we need to talk about before you go out and compare everyone to it… the truth is, concrete lists like those are amazing ways to start defining what you want in a person, but they’re not end-all-be-all descriptions of your perfect life partner.
That’s because your partner is never going to be EXACTLY as you imagine them. And that’s good, because if they were, you’d have some Nostradamus-style powers of prediction. Instead, your partner should fill MOST of the qualities on your list while still being distinct in their own ways.
In my line of work, this is called having the essence of something. You might not ever have exactly what you want in love, but you can definitely still have the essence of it. For example, your date might not read as much as you do… but if she takes an interest in listening to you talk about books you love, that allows you to tangentially check that internal box that says, “My partner loves to read.”
Finding the essence of what you enjoy in a partner is key to not only dating, but entering any long-term relationship. It’s what keeps marriages going strong ten, twenty, thirty years down the line, and it’s why the best couples respect and appreciate their differences.
Taken together, my advice is: find someone who exudes all the qualities you really love while also exhibiting their own traits that, while different than yours, still give you the “essence” of what you want in a relationship.
How’s that for a tip?
Date smarter, not harder
Dating advice for men doesn’t have to be hard. We (as men) just have to dispense with the old idea that some one-size-fits-all mentality is going to save us all from the dating pool. Instead of giving in to desperation and accepting your role in life as a perpetually love-starved soul, consider all the possibilities and opportunities that open up when you give real dating a real chance.
And, trust me. I know this stuff isn’t always easy. I should know — I’ve been stuck in love more times than you can imagine. The only way I’ve learned what I have is through massive amounts of trial and error. If I had to re-title this piece, I’d call this blog my “magnum opus from dating fails and flops.”
But now that you’ve read lessons learned from my major failures, you don’t have to make the same mistakes. Instead, if you want to skip the whole screwing-up-love part of the process… drop me (well, actually, my coaching service) a line, won’t you?
More similar content: Check out our dating tips for women article for more strategies on navigating the dating scene!